State Agencies Offer Working Illinois Families Extra Help Again This Tax Season

3/9/2011

Eligible Participants Urged to Take Advantage of Options for Tax Preparation and EITC Eligibility Assistance Before April 18th Deadline

The Illinois Departments of Revenue (IDOR), Human Services (IDHS) and Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) urge Illinois families to take advantage of tax preparation assistance and easy filing options available at www.tax.illinois.gov. By filing their state taxes electronically, families can get their entire refund quickly and for free, avoiding high-interest refund anticipation loans offered by many commercial tax preparation companies. Low and moderate-income families can take advantage of several tax assistance services offered in conjunction with the State of Illinois.

"This year, more working families are likely to benefit from federal and state earned income tax credits, and we want to make sure they know about these opportunities," said IDHS Secretary Michelle R.B. Saddler. "For many low and moderate-income households, these benefits are critical to rising out of poverty and making the transition from dependency to lasting self-sufficiency. We're also urging people who participated in the Put Illinois to Work program to take advantage of these important benefits."

Through a partnership between IDHS and the non-profit Center for Economic Progress' Tax Counseling Project, many working families uncomfortable preparing their returns themselves can receive free tax preparation assistance at tax assistance centers across the state. Since the beginning of this year's tax season, over 17,000 people have already filed returns worth over $39.5 million in tax returns.

IDHS is also reaching out to the people it serves and those who have left DHS programs for jobs, encouraging these individuals to take advantage of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) as well as free tax counseling provided by the Tax Counseling Project and the Tax Assistance Program (TAP), funded, in part by IDHS.

"Every tax season we see people urged to purchase expensive tax software or visit one of the tax preparation firms to file their taxes. And many people take out high-interest refund anticipation loans to get their money more quickly, said Director Brian Hamer, Illinois Department of Revenue. "Filing online is free, and refunds can be quickly deposited directly into a family's bank account, often within a matter of days."

The Tax Counseling Project trains volunteers to provide free tax services to families and individuals at nine locations in Chicago and 17 other sites throughout Illinois. The services are provided free of charge to families with incomes less than $50,000 and to individuals with incomes under $25,000. Most sites will open on January 22 and provide services through April 18.

DHS also funds the Tax Assistance Program which has 23 locations in Chicago and the suburbs. TAP recruits tax professionals to volunteer to assist low-income families.

Last year, the Center for Economic Progress' Tax Counseling Project and the Tax Assistance Program helped people file nearly 40,000 returns worth approximately $70.6 million in tax returns. In the 2009 tax year that ended last December, more than 935,000 families received more than $105 million in EIC benefits.

For more information on the Tax Counseling Project, contact the Center for Economic Progress in Chicago at (312) 630-0273, or call the toll free statewide number at 888-827-8511. For information on the Tax Assistance Program call 312-409-1555 or 312-409-4318 (Spanish). Details are also available on the IDHS website at www.dhs.state.il.us and the Department of Revenue website at www.revenue.state.il.us.

Information about filing federal taxes on-line can be found at www.irs.gov.